Adventures living as expats.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


The first stop on our 11 night Thailand trip was Phuket and it far exceeded our expectations. Phuket can be compared to Cancun in Mexico - gorgeous beaches, plenty of bars to party at, endless tourist trinkets, and attractions like a wave machine for surfing. We opted to stay near Kata beach which is further south of the major tourist areas. We spent our time there relaxing on the beach, enjoying affordable drinks (what a relief after almost 6 months in Jakarta), sampling some fantastic Thai food, and doing the tourist walk as my dad likes to call it.

Boats at Kata beach
Karon beach, we drank beer and coconuts all day, with only a break for some green curry
Small Thai restaurant with a million Baht view

We took a wonderful cooking class and learned tom yum soup (so spicy!), larb (chicken salad), and panang curry (of course my favorite). Since we've moved to Asia, I've developed a serious addiction to curry and have even started bringing it to parties. This will be a great addition to the recipe book, and I'll post the recipe soon!

We all cleaned our plates
Jeff looking tough with his butterfly helmet
We visited the Big Budda
These monks were so friendly and willing to pose for pictures
Sunset on the beach our last night
Our next stop is Khao Lak which is a quieter area north of Phuket that has easy access to some of Thailand's best snorkeling.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Orphan's Christmas

Although Christmas was very quiet this year, Jeff and I still had a very festive holiday.  We opened presents on Christmas Eve, which is typical for my family and honestly we just didn't have the willpower to wait any longer.  All of our gifts were very travel themed - new camera for Jessie, underwater camera case for Jeff, snorkels, and snorkel masks - perfect for our upcoming trip to Thailand. 
Our mini tree and gift pile
Jeff loves his new snorkel, he had enough Christmas enthusiasm to count for a few people!
Perfect fit
Jeff testing out the new underwater camera case while I test the new camera
We spent Christmas morning playing with our new toys.  I took random photos at our favorite coffee shop.
Jeff's model pose
We're definitely addicted to these delicious cappuccinos
Deep in contemplation
Next we hopped into the pool for some snorkeling and photo ops.

I hope we don't scare all the fish away with this look.
After all the fun in the pool, we drove through the flooded streets of Jakarta to join Mia and Dillan's Orphan's Christmas party.  They had a beautiful tree, Brendan's spiked eggnog, mulled wine, delicious turkey, and mass quantities of holiday side dishes and desserts.   We stuffed ourselves full of food and drink and left feeling that it was as perfect as Christmas can possibly be if you have to spend it away from family and friends back home.  Next we're off to Thailand for 10 days and hope we'll have some great photos to share in the next post.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Almost Christmas

It's been a little hard getting into the Holiday mood given the 90F weather. In the frantic packing and sorting before our move, it seemed logical to put the Christmas decorations in storage, oops. Luckily Les lent us hers while she's back in the States. Last weekend we decked ourselves out with holiday gear and headed to Adelle's place for her annual Holiday bash. Jeff made Apple Pie Infused Vodka and I made the new Gagatko signature drink, The Ginny Ginger (recipe follows).


  • 2 fresh squeezed limes
  • 1 jigger gin (Saffire is good)
  • Ginger ale
  • 3 large ice cubes

  1. Add the lime juice, gin, and ice to a shaker and shake away.
  2. Poor into a glass, top off with ginge ale, stir, and enjoy.
Somehow I talked Jeff into wearing this blinking hat
Les is like family here in Jakarta


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Making an Apartment our Home

The last few weeks have been quite hectic. I've started a new job and love being back in the workplace. Cooking classes, day trips, yoga in the mornings, experimenting in the kitchen, bahasa (language) lessons, pedicures, and travel planning were fantastic, but they started to loose their glimmer after a few months. I missed having a challenge, and ended up finding many at my new job. Probably my biggest hurdle has been adjusting to a different working culture where the pace of work and urgency are different than the high paced electronics manufacturing I was used to.

Jeff and I have slowly been decorating our apartment, and we're at a stage now where we can relax and enjoy the space. We've put up new art.

Here's our new couch (Savanah), pillows, coffee table (Koi Kemang), and rug.

We had so much trouble finding a tv stand that would fit our stereo. Luckily one of the great things about Jakarta is that custom made furniture is roughly the same price as pre-made so we had this made at Puri Artha, a local store that sells to Crate and Barrel.

Scroates and Mardi Gras (our kitties) used to shred our plants, so we were excited to get these large house plants and not worry about making the kitties sick.

Our new home has come so far since we first moved in and it's such a nice feeling to be settled in!

Before picture

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fish with Coriander Masala and Thanksgiving in Jakarta

I have to admit to my first break down in Jakarta - I started crying in a Taxi....on Thanksgiving eve.  While walking to catch the taxi to meet Jeff, I misjudged a muddy puddle and managed to soak myself and my favorite shoes.  The real mishap came when the taxi driver claimed we got cut-off causing us to miss the turn on Jl. Jendral Sudirman, one of the busiest streets in Jakarta (not sure how you get cut-off at 1 MPH).  On Sudirman you can't make a simple U-Turn, instead it requires a 45 minute loop that takes you back to the beginning of the  business district.  After about 1.5 hrs in the taxi, I just couldn't help thinking that I'd rather be chasing my niece around and just couldn't stop the tears.  Once the cab driver realized I was sobbing in the back, he had no idea what to do and opted to apologize continually for the next 10 minutes until I finally met up with Jeff.  In total the commute was 2.5 hours to get to our final turkey dinner destination, which was less than 6 miles away.  Luckily there was still plenty of sangria, Guinness marinated turkey, and pumpkin pie to be had (thanks Janice).

On a completely separate and more positive topic, I took an Indian cooking class about a month ago.  We made naan, potato fritters, and fish with coriander masala - which was definitely the tastiest in my opinion and I would definitely order this in a restaurant.   

  • 1 kg red snapper fillet - washed, dried, and cut in bite size pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 cm ginger
  • 3 mild red chilis (seeds removed)
  • 4 Tbsp cilantro
  • 2 t coriander
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 t turmeric powder
  • 1/2 t black mustard seed
  • 1/2 t fenugreek seed
  • 2 t salt
  • 3 T lime juice
  • 3 T oil
  • 1 large onion minced
  • 3 tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 t garam masala
  • 1/2 cup water or stock
  • cilantro for garnish

  1. Grind garlic, ginger, chilies, cilantro, coriander, sugar, mustard, fenugreek, salt, lime juice, and turmeric in a food processor until smooth.  Add a little water if needed.
  2. Heat oil, fry onions until golden brown.
  3. Add paste and fry until liquid dries up.
  4. Add tomatoes and fry for a minute then add garam masala and water (or stock).  Bring to low boil.
  5. Add fish and cook for 7-10 minutes.  Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.